Wed 21 Mar 2012
Nicki Minaj just touched down in Japan, and you can only imagine the mutual adoration for her out there. In the past few days, the ramp up for her Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and revealed collaborations with Nas, Cam and Chris Brown…as well as a multi-million dollar Pepsi deal. But today, the Complex Magazine team released Nicki Minaj’s cover feature! Part 2 of their 10th Anniversary issue, and the counterpart to their Justin Bieber cover.
This Nicki Minaj story is extra near and dear to my heart because Complex’s EIC and a dear friend, Noah Callahan-Bever asked me to come out of my weird self-imposed magazine retirement to interview Nicki in Indianapolis during SuperBowl weekend….and talk about her unstoppable ambition, her exhausting run, her dreams of having a family, and….of course, the pitfalls and daggers she’s facing every day.
While setting up the interview, it was clear that Nicki has been forced to fortify her fences….as soon as we sat down, she became the same girl I first met in 2009…with Auntie Deb, before the Young Money signing, before the fashion world embraces, before it all. Equal parts lion and lamb. Happy to talk about meeting her idols (Madonna), gripe about her performances, and sip on margaritas (yes, salt all on the rimrimrimrim).
(Thank you to NCB, Rob Kenner, Nicki, Safaree, Kate Rosen, and Ebro)
Nicki Minaj: Doing the Super Bowl with Madonna doesn’t really change Nicki Minaj’s personal goals. My goal right now is still to put out Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, sell five million copies eventually, and tour every country in the world. That’s what I’ve been working toward. So while the world is talking about, “Oh my God, I can’t believe Nicki Minaj was at the Super Bowl!” I’m mixing and mastering my music. In my scheme of things it’s way bigger.
Miss Info: Because those surprises can’t replace the things you want to achieve by yourself?
Nicki Minaj: Because my goal the whole time has been for people to see me as a stand-alone artist. I came out with Young Money, the biggest hip-hop label in the world at that time. And then it was, “How do I branch away from Lil Wayne?” One of my biggest records was with Drake, “Moment 4 Life.” Even with the Super Bowl, it’s Madonna’s moment. I’m just sharing in that moment. It’s not Nicki Minaj’s moment. Nicki Minaj at the Grammys—that’s my moment. I’ve just been constantly on this quest to stand alone.
Note: There was an interesting conversation that Nicki and I had that somehow didn’t make it into the feature, but Nicki basically said that she has a 5 year plan…and that part of her future she insists will include getting married and having kids. In fact, as driven as she is…Nicki almost seemed to have this ideal white-picket dream life in mind. Hubby and babies, working every once in a while, like a Gwyneth Paltrow…or again, like a Madonna.
Check out more of Nicki’s stunning photos and more of our one-on-one chat….
After the jump!
Nicki Minaj’s Complex 10th Anniversary cover feature: by Miss Info
Here’s a drinking game that gets the job done: Take a sip of Nicki’s drink of choice, a margarita, for every one of her recent accomplishments. Solo set at the Grammys. Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna and M.I.A. M.A.C. Cosmetics campaign. OPI’s Nicki Minaj nail polish collection. Mattel’s Nicki Minaj Barbie Doll. Pink Friday certified double-platinum. You’ll be under the table before you get past the last six months.
Nicki’s growth from mixtapes to main stage is unheard of for a female rapper. The 29-year-old Queens MC has stats that match up more with 50 Cent than Salt-N-Pepa. The speed of her rise from Young Money rookie to Fortune 500 trophy has been so fast, it can only be measured in clicks, retweets, and YouTube views.
Actresses perform “Superbass” karaoke and fashion editors fawn over Nicki’s theatrics. Legend has it that after hearing Nicki’s verse on “Monster,” one of the song’s other MCs called it the best female rap verse ever. But in the eye of the storm, who has time to smell the flowers and check their hashtags? Refusing to lie back and bask in her success, Nicki keeps her steamroller moving full speed ahead, fueled by hard lumps of coal. While we all debate and discuss her, Nicki will launch her sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded…and her fashion line…and her fragrance line…and her world tour—all moving forward with a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Is there only one direction for her to go? “She’s done everything and she’s everywhere in a time frame that breaks every record,” says Pharrell Williams, a man who’s seen many star trajectories, of Nicki’s explosion. “The only thing left is…inner. We know when she flexes there’s nobody who can stand next to her. But talking to yourself is the next challenge.”
Who has time for self-analysis when there’s a world to conquer, competition to best, audiences to satisfy, and a future family to plan? It’s enough to keep a Barbie and her alter egos very busy.
Miss Info: Some artists feel more comfortable being puppets.
Nicki Minaj: Right! Because if you’re telling me you just want to be an artist, you’re telling me that you do not want control over a brand you’re creating. You don’t want any say in a brand that you’re creating? I can’t. I can’t rock with that theory.
Miss Info: Did you always know what you wanted your brand to be?
Nicki Minaj: I didn’t know who I was as an artist. I knew who I was as a person. My morals and everything, they’re still the same. And then I took it upon myself to create this artist, Nicki Minaj. I wanted to do what a label cannot do. Now, labels are going to think they can re-create this. [Laughs.] But they can’t.
Miss Info: They’re definitely trying. It’s the Nicki Effect. Since the success of Pink Friday you must see that the industry has changed. Corporations see a female rapper who has more visibility and more income streams than her male counterparts. So new female artists are viable, and that creates a more competitive atmosphere.
Nicki Minaj: When I first got in, doing freestyles and mixtapes, I did a song called “Still I Rise.” I was talking about how so many women were pulling me down and ripping me apart. I said, “Every time a door opens for me/That means you just got a better opportunity to do you/Better understand these labels look at numbers and statistics/If I win, you win, it’s just logistics.”
Nicki Minaj: So in order for my theory to be proven right, I have to open doors for women. The up-and-coming females who wanted to get in—when you guys are coming out and dissing me, and all that negativity….They saw me as a threat instead of seeing me as “she’s going to open the door for us.” I never came into what I’m doing dissing anyone. I gave everyone their props and it’s unfortunate that people felt intimidated and attacked me. Then it became a ripple effect. But now it’s all love. My music is a way for me to have fun. Sometimes I’ll say things and I’ll laugh. But it’s all love. I’m in a great place and I just wish everybody the best.
This being Complex’s 10th Anniversary issue, it seems fitting to look forward to the next 10 years… Where do you think you’ll be in 2022?
In 2022, I’ll definitely be married and I’ll definitely have my two children.
Why just two?
OK, I might have three, but I do want at least one boy.
Maybe if you get a full set early, you can stop there.
No, no, no. I don’t think I even need a girl. I need a boy though.
Wait, you don’t feel like you need a girl?
Yeah, ‘cause you think I’m going to dress her up in wigs. No. [Laughs] I really need a boy in my life. A baby boy. Because…I’m so attached to my little brother and I felt like that was my real son. And boys, they’re just so, I don’t know… My heart just melts when I see them.
OK, so in the next 10 years, married…
Oh, I will definitely be married.
And two children.
Read the full interview and see all the photos over at Complex! (Cop it on newsstands on Apr. 4)
Nicki Minaj Gets Chris Brown, Nas, Cam’Ron For ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ (Tracklisting)
New Music: Cam’Ron “F*ck You” (Exclusive Details: Cam Teams Up With Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa)
Nicki Minaj Shocks the World with an Exorcist-themed Grammy Performance
Nicki Minaj Disses Lil Kim During Angie Martinez Hot97 Interview